The Parent-Child Relationship: How to Earn and Maintain Your Children’s Trust
Trust is an extremely powerful concept. It takes time to build, but can be broken in seconds. Once broken, it takes a lot longer to rebuild it than to establish it in the first place. An honest relationship with open communication is imperative between parents and children, and the relationship of trust is probably the most difficult to establish. Aside from love, trust is the strongest and most important element you can build with your children. If they can trust and believe in you, they will model you and become trustworthy. However, if they cannot trust and believe in you, they lose all faith in humanity and do not respect the bonds of trust.
Before writing this article, I asked my own children, “Do you trust me? I mean, do you really trust me?” What I learned from their responses and reasoning is that what builds trust from a parent’s perspective differs from a child’s perspective. Parents have a hard time trusting children due to their sometimes dishonest and cunning nature. However, if children are brought up to value honesty, they will speak openly with parents and will not feel the need to sneak away or lie. This allows parents to be informed and make informed decisions when guiding children along the path of life. But I can guarantee you that if children don’t trust their parents for whatever reason, they will do their best to keep Mom and Dad in the dark. If you want to know what your children are doing, they must be able to trust you enough to let you participate. With that in mind, from a child’s perspective (which is the most important because it is what we as parents are trying to establish), here are the 5 most effective ways for a parent to earn a child’s trust. :
1. Keep your word. Keeping your word on everything possible, no matter how small, is imperative. When parents tell a child that they are going to do something, they need to make sure they follow through and do it. A pattern of kept promises lets kids know that when Mom or Dad says something, they can take it to the bank. They trust that your word is as good as gold. In our home, we try to live up to the old principle: “Your word is your bond.” If you say you’re going to do something, do it. If you say something is going to happen, it needs to happen. But if you say something is going to be and repeatedly fail on your promises, your children will quickly learn that they cannot trust a word you say. Broken promises are a good way to lose valuable trust.
2. Be honest. Sure, parents sometimes have to tell a little “white lie” to protect their children. But when it comes to big and meaningful questions, the best policy is to be honest, even if you have to sugarcoat it a bit. Being honest does two things: it lets the child know that their answers are truthful, it allows them to act on them with confidence, and it sends the message to the child that honesty, no matter how difficult it may be at times, is the right thing to do. key. It is right. By believing in honesty by seeing your example, children grow up to be honest in return, letting you know that they are where they say they are and that they are doing what they said they would. Honesty without distorted repercussions establishes the child’s confidence that he can talk to his parents about any topic.
3. Stay calm. Parents who are approachable on sensitive topics build trust with the child. If a child knows that he can come to you and that you will not be nervous about something that deserves attention, he will trust you to help him find solutions and trust your guidance through the situation. Parents who get out of control on one topic after another quickly send the message that the child cannot be trusted to listen because the child is afraid of yelling, hitting, and punishing. Parents who lose their cool and judge their children teach them never to come back with a problem. When the child cannot rely on parents to listen calmly, they turn instead to their inexperienced friends, and those are the last people you want to guide your child.
4. Be there for them. When children know that Mom and Dad will be there for them, supporting them through crisis after crisis, they develop a bond of trust that is critical to open communication. My daughter said, “You were always there for me. Right or wrong, I knew you would be there.” Knowing that I was on her team, even if we had private conversations pointing out what she did wrong, she was confident that I was trustworthy. She knew that even when no one else was there, I was, allowing her to put all her faith and trust in me. And because she trusted me, she shared much more with me than other girls with their parents.
5. Be a role model. Do not do anything misleading or wrong that you would not educate your children to do. Cheating, stealing, and disrespecting authority are behaviors your child will emulate. When a child hears you talk about trustworthy behavior and then sees you doing things that are completely inconsistent with what you preached, they learn that if YOU cannot be trusted to be a good person, it is okay for them to abandon the efforts they establish. trust too. Exemplary behavior teaches lessons and establishes trust in your integrity. Poor and unacceptable behavior teaches double standards, which is the same as having two faces, and that is the best way to lose your children’s integrity and trust.
Children observe how we behave as parents. By keeping our word, being honest, staying calm, assertive, and behaving well as we ask them to, they will learn that we can be trusted in all circumstances. And this level of trust, while difficult to establish, is critical to raising children during the confusing teenage years. If you lay the foundation for confidence early on, keep it strong through adolescence, and continue to respect it into adulthood, your kids will never take anything you say or do with a grain of salt. Establish trust and you’re on your way to raising respectful, honest, and moral human beings. If you’re not trustworthy, you can bet your kids are doing a lot more than you think. As for me, I’d rather have confidence and know what’s going on than be a lying dictator and stay in the dark. Aside from inherent love, trust is the hardest but most valuable bond available to guide children through the smoke and mirrors of life.